What does it take to become a successful entrepreneur? Often, we come across motivational speeches and videos about overnight success. However, that is rarely the case. For success and skill development, a lot of time and effort is required. In today’s blog, we bring you 8 key skills you want to work on to adopt the entrepreneurial mindset!


   1. Initiative and Self-Reliance 

According to the NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship), initiative and self-reliance are the ability to take charge of a project without external input or guidance and navigate through obstacles independently. Some key characteristics of this skill include maintaining an optimistic attitude despite uncertainty, setting personal goals and monitoring progress, making independent decisions while being open to seeking help when necessary, and persevering until a project is completed.


Another important concept to mention here is the locus of control. According to Psychology Today, locus of control refers to the extent to which an individual feels a sense of agency in their life. An individual with an internal locus of control believes that their successes are primarily a result of their abilities or actions. On the other hand, someone with an external locus of control believes that external factors are responsible for their (un)successes. To develop a strong internal locus of control, try to focus on aspects of a problem that are within your control while setting aside external factors.


   2. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving 

The second skills worth adopting are critical thinking and problem-solving. By this, we mean the process of applying higher-level, process-oriented thinking skills and using applied reasoning to make decisions. Some characteristics of this skill are:

Analytical: Evaluating opportunities effectively.
Process-oriented: Having a clear understanding of the necessary steps to make your business successful.
Logical: Analyzing data critically.
Unbiased: Objectively thinking about the problem and its solution.


ABC participants finding solutions to the tasks given by Professor Peter Forint

ABC participants finding solutions to the tasks given by Professor Peter Forint


   3. Flexibility and Adaptability

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, being flexible is characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements. On the other hand, adaptability is described as capable of being or becoming adapted. Some characteristics associated with this skill include proactivity and reactivity. Proactive behavior addresses future conditions, circumstances, or crises, while reactive behavior often refers to an immediate response to feelings about an uncontrollable situation, a problem, or other issues.


To adopt a more proactive stance, you need to iterate. This means making minor changes to the current business model in an attempt to capitalize on closely related market opportunities. For instance, if customers are complaining about rude employees, invest in staff training and wages. If customers are concerned about the delivery time, check if there are alternative delivery services and evaluate the time it takes for a package to reach its destination!


   4. Comfort With Risk 

The fourth skill according to NFTE that is good to have is being comfortable with risk. In the business world, tough decisions need to be made — decisions where we’re not sure how they will play out. Yet, if you are dedicated to your goal, proactive, analytical in your thinking, and can adapt to new situations, you are on a very good path!


From the space industry to becoming a CEO at Skydome, Daryl Hemingway is a true example of being comfortable with risk

From the space industry to becoming a CEO at Skydome, Daryl Hemingway is a true example of being comfortable with risk


   5. Future Orientation

In psychology and related fields, future orientation is broadly defined as the extent to which an individual thinks about the future, anticipates future consequences, and plans ahead before acting. To achieve this, you must consider how to build a business that is sustainable, both financially and environmentally. Additionally, success takes time! It’s not realistic to expect to sell 10,000 units of your product on the first day.


Ultimately, it’s important to focus on long-term benefits rather than short-term sacrifices and efforts. Imagine needing a larger warehouse because your business is doing very well. At the same time, your laptop has malfunctioned, but there’s another one in the office, although it’s a slightly older model. However, it is still functional. What would you choose? The warehouse, of course! We’ll postpone buying the latest laptop since we have a working one in the office.


   6. Communication and Collaboration 

We already talked about the importance of communication in one of our previous blogs. Effective communication within teams is essential for coordinating activities, ensuring the availability of necessary resources and equipment, completing preceding or interconnected tasks, and enabling people to deliver quality work within specified timelines.


Furthermore, it is crucial to foster better collaboration and build relationships with others. Who do you think people prefer? A boss who micromanages, gives orders, knows absolutely nothing about team members, or someone who has weekly meetings with them, is friendly, and supports their progress and development?


Participants at ABC Toronto working on group projects, communication ideas and fostering collaboration

Participants at ABC Toronto working on group projects, communication ideas and fostering collaboration


   7. Opportunity Recognition

According to Alexander Ardichvili, Richard Cardozo, and Sourav Ray, the opportunities aren’t found, but made. They replace “opportunity recognition” with “opportunity development,” emphasizing a successful process involving recognition, evaluation, and active development. According to them, key factors influencing this process include:

1. Entrepreneurial alertness;
2. Information asymmetry and prior knowledge;
3. Social networks;
4. Personality traits, including optimism, self-efficacy, and creativity; and
5. Type of opportunity itself.


   8. Creativity and Innovation 

Very often, we hear how these two skills are crucial for success in the business world. But what’s the difference? Creativity is the ability to think in new ways and apply fresh perspectives to old problems. Innovation is applied creativity, in which the spark of a new idea is turned into a novel solution or process. According to Daisie Blog, some ways to boost creativity and innovation include embracing curiosity, developing mental flexibility, fostering collaboration, and practicing self-care!


If this has intrigued you, we recommend visiting the official NFTE website to assess the development of your specific skills! This way, you can identify areas for improvement before diving into the business world. If you feel ready to take the next step, join us in our summer programs where in Toronto, you have the opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship, and in Silicon Valley, we are dedicated to innovations and developing your startup idea.